The top of the Walkie Talkie is probably more Sky then Garden ...
There is something about the City’s skyscrapers that makes people emotional. Especially the new ones. To wit, there’s a joke going around that asks why Sky Garden is the best place to eat in town? Because it’s the only place in London where you can’t see the Walkie Talkie building. Boom boom.
I’ll save the skyscraper anger for another review, but from a food and drink perspective the new towers are providing a new, very view-oriented experience. The aforementioned top of the Walkie Talkie is probably more Sky then Garden, but once you make your way through the queues of London imbibers and airport-like metal detectors, the views are truly stunning. Possibly the best in town.
The Darwin brasserie occupies the middle tier (quite literally) between the Sky Pod bar for drinks, and the more serious dining to be found at Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Brasserie. It’s a modern space which in keeping with the security gates at ground floor level feels very much like an airport restaurant. The air is thick with the noise of wine-fuelled jocularity and the clattering of furniture and cutlery. Not, I hasten to add, as a consequence of anything being dropped or broken but from the architectural acoustics of a large open space that is framed by glass and steel.
The service is friendly, but as you’d expect from a brasserie, brisk and bordering on overly attentive. My friend remarked that perhaps it’s the attention that comes with being a famous reviewer. Given I’m both Z list and not in the least bit recognisable methinks the service is down to enthusiasm. But I enjoyed the thought.
The food is good brassserie fare. The carpaccio of Scottish beerf with truffled mascarpone was melt-in-your-mouth divine. The beetroot cured salmon was decent, although i didn’t pick up the beetroot flavour. The whole plaice with shrimp butter and spinach was possibly a little too heavy on the butter and too light on the seasoning. The chocolate pave dessert could have done with a little less fridge time – something I often feel with cold desserts.
Darwin reminds me of another place in another time. Back in the early noughties when the Oxo Tower restaurant was in its pomp. Like the Oxo Tower it has decent food, fast and attentive service with a festive, party-like atmosphere. Like the Oxo Tower, the view is the star of the show. But unlike the Oxo Tower Darwin is atop a tall building and an infamous one at that. But as promised, I’ll leave the skyscraper anger for another review.
On a scale of * to *****
Wining and dining ***
Boozing and schmoozing ****
Serving and pouring ***
20 Fenchurch Street (via Philpot Lane), City of London, London, EC3M 3BY